June 15, 2022

New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) has named a 25-man wider squad to travel home to Aotearoa to face Pacific rivals Mate Ma’a Tonga at Mt Smart Stadium on June 25.

Eight of the squad are potential Kiwi debutants, including Ellerslie Eagles junior Ronaldo Mulitalo (Cronulla Sutherland) who leads the NRL with 20 line-breaks and Eels playmaker Dylan Brown who has six tries, seven try assists, five line break assists, nine line breaks and 46 tackle breaks in 13 games this season.

Other new faces are Panthers duo Moses Leota and Scott Sorensen, both instrumental in Penrith’s dominance over the last three seasons. Vodafone Warriors-bound Parramatta back rower Marata Niukore joins the fray, as does Gold Coast hooker Erin Clark.

Former Junior Kiwi teammates Griffin Neame (Cowboys) and Jordan Riki (Broncos) enter the Kiwis’ frame and Broncos fullback Te Maire Martin receives a recall after his impressive return to the NRL this season. The last of Martin’s four internationals was Kiwi head coach Michael Maguire’s first Test in charge against England in Denver four years ago.

Unsurprisingly, 2021 Dally M Team of the Year members James Fisher-Harris (Penrith) and Isaiah Papali’i (Parramatta) have cemented their spots in the squad. Tigers-bound Papali’i has averaged 155 metres a game to add to his five tries while Fisher-Harris consistently shows why he’s one of the best front-rowers in the game.

The versatile Joey Manu (Sydney Roosters) is named alongside Melbourne’s cohort of playmakers, Jahrome Hughes, Brandon Smith, Nelson Asofa-Solomona and the Bromwich brothers Jesse and Kenny.

Leading the NRL with 964 post-contact metres, Canberra forward Joseph Tapine has been a season standout. He joins Canberra teammate Jordan Rapana and in-form Cowboys centre Peta Hiku who returns to the Kiwi squad after last touring in 2018.

“I know how much the black and white jersey means to these players,” said Maguire.

“To finally return home after two years and play for your country in front of fans and whānau, this Test will be special.

“This squad has an exciting mix of fresh talent and experienced Kiwis having some of their best seasons. We have a strong spine of leaders throughout the group that play a crucial role in the team, especially with these new boys coming through.

“Some difficult decisions have had to be made, but it’s a positive sign of our depth in certain positions. With the quality of Kiwi talent on display throughout the NRL, we are in a strong place as we look to build a solid foundation ahead of the Rugby League World Cup come October.”

 

For tickets to Kiwis v MMT, June 25th at Mt Smart Stadium, please click here.

3:10pm NZT Kiwi Ferns v Tonga
5:20pm NZT Kiwis v MMT

15 June 2022

Nineteen players have been selected for the upcoming Kiwi Ferns clash against Tonga on June 25 (3.10 pm kick-off) NZT at Mount Smart Stadium.

The long-awaited June Test will be the Kiwi Ferns’ first appearance at home after a two-year Covid hiatus.

Included in the Ricky Henry coached side is a mix of fresh talent from the NRLW and Sky Sport Women’s Premiership, while experienced internationals make a return.

Māori All-Stars front-rower Mya Hill-Moana gets the call-up after her impressive 2021 NRLW Premiership win with the Roosters.

Sydney teammate and seasoned Kiwi Fern Raecene McGregor also cements her place; the three-time NRLW Premiership winner is joined by her sister Page McGregor who featured in this year’s Grand Final for the Dragons.

Young Titan’s centre Hailee-Jay Maunsell, who stood out in last year’s QRL Harvey Norman U19 competition, earns her debut selection. The 18-year-old was a part of the future Titans programme and was later promoted to the NRLW after making a lasting impression.

Australian rugby union 2016 Olympic gold medallist and Bronco Amy Turner receives her debut selection alongside fellow teammate Roxy Murdoch-Masila.

From the 2022 NZRL Sky Sport Women’s Premiership, the competition’s MVP Laishon Albert-Jones gets her maiden call-up after playing a crucial role in Akarana’s first Premiership title in 11 years.

Te Atatu duo Katelyn Vahaakolo and Karli Hansen were also named; both earned their Kiwi Ferns debut against Fetu Samoa in 2020, resulting in NRLW call-ups for the 2021 season.

2020 Kiwi Fern Rookie of the Year and Newcastle Knight Autumn-Rain Stephens Daly returns to the frame alongside Manurewa Marlin Christyl Stowers and seasoned Kiwi Fern’s Captain Krystal Rota.

Leading 2021 NRLW try-scorer Madison Bartlett was named following an impressive six tries for the Dragons this season. Former Veronica White medallist and 2020 Young New Zealander of the Year Georgia Hale and Gisborne-born Paramatta play-maker Nita Maynard also return.

After an impressive NRLW season with the Newcastle Knights, Player of the Year and Players’ Player of the year, Annetta-Claudia Nu’uausala is locked in, as are her former Knights teammates, Ngatokorua Arakua, Kararaina Wira-Kohu and Charlotte Scanlan. Nu’uausala recently signed with the Brisbane Broncos.

“We’ve listed a group of individuals that have rightfully earned their spots, and we acknowledge them for their efforts in both the NRLW competition and Sky Sport Women’s Premiership,” Henry said.

“We welcome five new players to the team who I’m confident will flourish under our veteran leaders; we also see the return of some key names from our 2020 Test against Samoa, this time with debut NRLW seasons under their belt.

“This Tonga Test allows us to build a solid foundation ahead of the Rugby League World Cup come October. It’s been nearly two years since we have donned the Black and White jersey, so this Test back home in front of whānau and fans Is going to be special.”

Purchase tickets to the June double-header as NZRL aims to break the world record for a women’s rugby league crowd attendance.

 

For tickets to Kiwi Ferns v MMT, June 25th at Mt Smart Stadium please click here.

3:10pm NZT Kiwi Ferns v Tonga
5:20pm NZT Kiwis v MMT

 

07 October 2021

New Zealand Rugby League is pleased to announce the Kiwis’ Rugby League World Cup Wider Squad.

Despite the absence of international football over the last two years, 2022 will be the busiest international calendar in recent time, as NZRL work towards a June Pacific Test and Trans-Tasman clash, all before the October 2022 World Cup campaign.

After his impressive club season, Premiership-winning Panther and Dally M Prop of the Year, James Fisher-Harris unsurprisingly made the list, as did Dally M Backrower of the Year and Eels’ golden buy, Isaiah Papali’i. Papali’i is joined by fellow Parramatta playmakers Dylan Brown and Marata Niukore.

Star Rooster’s centre Joey Manu had one of his best seasons with 12 line breaks, ten tries and 141 metres per game. He joins veteran Kiwi prop and Roosters teammate Jared Waerea-Hargreaves who made 1280 post-contact metres in 23 appearances for 2021.

Melbourne’s Reimis Smith locked in his selection with 14 tries this year, as he joins a plethora of Kiwi Storm talent, including standout half Jahrome Hughes, who was instrumental in a well-oiled Melbourne side that ran rampant throughout 2021.

Corey Harawira-Naera returns after a dominant performance in his first full season at Canberra, and departing Shark Shaun Johnson is joined by Cronulla teammates Ronaldo Mulitalo, Braden Hamlin-Uele and Briton Nikora.

Fresh names to join the frame include Bronco’s back-rower and former Junior Kiwis captain Jordan Riki, who enters the squad after a solid debut season. Titan’s Hooker and former Manurewa Marlin Erin Clark gets the call up alongside dynamic youngster Josh Schuster and Waikato born Morgan Harper after a breakthrough seasons with Manly.

“We have listed this wider squad, so players are aware that the upcoming preseason and following season creates an enormous opportunity for them and this Kiwis team”, says Head Coach Michael Maguire.

“International football has been a challenge,” Maguire adds. “But the player’s enthusiasm to represent their country is as strong as ever; there’s no question as to how much this jersey means to them, and their eagerness to play has never wavered. The senior players set a strong foundation and have their eyes focused on the 2022 World Cup.”

The 2021 season saw many Kiwi eligible players stamp their mark on the NRL, encouraging selectors to name a ‘Notable Players’ list that Head Coach Maguire has deemed “the future of the Kiwis team.”

“With the football that our younger players have played, we have created a list of players that, with a little more experience, could be the future of this team,” says Maguire.

“I am sure we will unearth some new Kiwi talent in the next 12 months, and we may even uncover more current names not listed. Nevertheless, this depth is encouraging.

“This year, we have watched many New Zealand players have their best seasons yet. Now with that experience, coupled with the new generation of talent coming through – it is an exciting time to be a Kiwi.”

Following a blockbuster final at NZRL’s National Women’s Tournament, the Kiwi Ferns wider squad has been named ahead of preparations for the Kiwi Ferns, Kiwis and Junior Kiwis triple-header to be held in Auckland on 13 October.

The squad of 33 includes some fresh development prospects, products of the ever-growing women’s game, as well as many seasoned veterans carrying years of international experience.

Despite closing the curtain on World Cup rugby league, Laura Mariu has proven she’s still performing at the top level admitting the appeal of playing in October’s triple-header was too strong.

“After the World Cup I thought I’d hang up the boots on my Kiwi Ferns career but I just can’t stay away. While my body still allows me I’m keen to play in that Kiwi Ferns jersey if they’ll have me,” she said.

She also celebrates her naming on the New Zealand Order of Merit in the Queen’s Birthday Honours announced today for her outstanding service to rugby league.

While there will be some additions to the squad as dispensations, injuries and overseas players in contention are considered, Kiwi Ferns Coach Kelvin Wright is excited to begin his journey with the squad that promises some “real raw talent”.

“The squad I’ll be working with in the lead-up to October’s triple-header is exactly what any coach can hope for, full of talent and rugby league smarts.

“With the right support I believe we can create something pretty special as a team,” he said.

“It’s great to see women from the regions putting their hand up and excited to work alongside the women to ensure we have the best team on the field in October,” he said.

Preparations for the Test against the Jillaroos in October will be further enhanced by the opportunity for players to compete in the new NRL Women’s Competition.

New Zealand Rugby League Talent Manager David McMeeken was singing his praises for the level of play demonstrated over the three day tournament.

“In wet, muddy conditions over two of the three days of play there was some exceptional football on display. The players and staff were a credit to all the regions represented and there was a great environment created around the venue from them all, despite the conditions.

“This squad provides Kelvin with plenty of experience and also some youth players who have showcased some unique ability throughout the tournament, who if exposed to a higher level of coaching and surrounded with the experience within the squad, we could potentially see some of those players at the next World Cup,” McMeeken said.

Kiwi Ferns wider squad:

AKARANA: Alice Vailea, Crystal Tamaru, Georgia Hale, Karley Te Kawa, Lara Diamond-Brahne, Ngatokotoru Arakua, Shontelle Woodman, Annetta-Claudia Nuuausala, Lisa Edwards; CANTERBURY: Masuisuimatamaalii Tauasa Pauaraisa; COUNTIES: AieshaLeigh Smalley, Amber Kani, Apii Nicholls-Pualau, Hilda Peters, Kaylen Ikitule, Kerehitina Matua, Kimiora Nati, Krystal Rota, Langi Veainu, Laura Mariu, Lavinia Tauhalaiku, Louisa Gago, Onjeurlina Leiataua, Raquel Anderson-Pitman, Teuila Fotu-Moala, Sarah Filimoeatu; AUCKLAND VULCANS: Ma’atuleio Fotu-Moala, Tanika Jazz Noble-Bell; WAI-COA-BAY: Honey Hireme, Kanyon Paul, Lakiila Gudgeon, Te Whetumarama Nuku; WELLINGTON: Acacia Te Iwimate.